During my first year in college, I was smitten by a very special young lady. And while she and I had some interaction, I never asked her out on a date. It seems I never found the right words to say. As a result, our relationship never developed. In fact, our relationship was put on hold for more than 11 years. Eventually, we fell in love and have been married for 18 years, but it could have happened much sooner, if only I knew what to say.
Sometimes relationships stop growing when we feel like we don’t have the right words to say.
Similarly, in prayer, our relationship with God often stops growing, or is put on hold, simply because we feel our words are inadequate and we just don’t know what to say. If you are reading this, chances are you are curious about prayer or would like to learn a new dimension of prayer. Or maybe you are a mature believer, but like Jesus’ disciples, you sense a need to relearn how to pray. If you don’t quite know where to begin or what to say in prayer, I have great news for you. Your prayers are already being heard!
In the introduction to his paraphrase of the Psalms, Eugene Peterson describes the prayers of the Psalms this way:
Untutored, we tend to think that prayer is what good people do when they are doing their best. It is not. Inexperienced, we suppose that there must be an “insider” language that must be acquired before God takes us seriously in our prayer. There is not.
He then goes on to describe that when translated into English the prayers in the Psalms sound polished and genteel, especially when read from the classic translations. But these prayers in the original Hebrew sound earthy and rough, much like many of our ordinary, “inadequate” prayers.
Please remember, you don’t have to be an expert in prayer to be heard by God!
In the Bible, Exodus 2 tells us about the Israelites who, after 400 years of slavery, had forgotten much about their faith, but they cried out from their bondage in groans to God. They weren’t experts in prayer and didn’t have all the right words to say, but “God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24). Through those groan-prayers, God began to address their need by sending Moses to deliver them with an astounding display of God’s power and loving care for them.
Sometimes our prayers may seem inadequate, but they are not. At times, we may think that well-spoken prayers are heard best. But I love what Ellen G. White says about this in Desire of Ages, p. 356: “Not a sigh is breathed, not a pain felt, not a grief pierces the soul, but the throb vibrates to the Father’s heart.”
There are deep spiritual yearnings within our hearts that are always heard by God. The apostle Paul affirms this truth when he says, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).
Do your prayers ever feel like baby talk? Keep praying them, no matter how elementary or inadequate they may seem, because God hears them. Even the most rudimentary prayer is heard by God.
We serve an amazing God who, like a loving father, loves to hear from His children and loves even more to answer our prayers in powerful ways.